Free and affordable things to do in Boulder, Colorado


Sitting at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado, Boulder is a regular fixture in lists of America’s most liveable cities, thanks to its enticing mix of natural attractions and cultural delights. Museums, galleries, breweries and live events all abound here, while the craggy rock formations of the trail-lined Flatirons attract hiking enthusiasts from far and wide.

A bustling street scene in Boulder (Photo: Pedro Szekely via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

With so many opportunities for exploring the great outdoors, Boulder is also a city that can be enjoyed without hitting you too hard in the pocket. And there are also plenty of indoor attractions that are reasonably priced, too. If you’d like to put an itinerary together of great things to see and do in Boulder that won’t bust your budget, check out our list below.

Shelby American Collection

Fans of classic American cars are in for a real treat in Boulder thanks to the presence of the Shelby American Collection. Housing one of the world’s finest collections of original Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, Ford GTs and GT40s, the spacious museum takes visitors on a remarkable visual journey through the rich heritage of Shelby American, which manufactured some of the most iconic automobiles ever made. As well as its stunning car collection, there’s also an array of photos, artwork and memorabilia to enjoy. Admission to the museum is $5.00.

LOCATION 5020 Chaparral Court HOURS Sat 10am-4pm Closed Sun-Fri

(Photo: Sicnag via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Spread across three galleries in the heart of downtown Boulder, this acclaimed arts museum plays host to frequently changing exhibitions featuring contemporary art by regional & international artists. In addition to the galleries, there’s also a dedicated event space and theatre that stages regular live artistic performances. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, and free to kids under 12.

LOCATION 1750 13th Street HOURS Tues, Thurs & Fri 11am-6pm Weds 11am-8pm Sat 10am-5pm Sun 11am-5pm Closed Mon

Asher Brewing Company

Boulder has a vibrant craft brewery scene and at the vanguard of this burgeoning local industry is Asher Brewing Company. The laid-back, independently owned brewery is the city’s first maker of organic craft beers, priding itself on its production of high quality ales that use only organic ingredients in an environmentally sustainable fashion. The on-site taproom features a rotating selection of 8 in-house beers on tap at all times and a look around the brewery can also be arranged, either as a quick peek for individuals, or as a pre-arranged guided tour for groups of 6 or more.

LOCATION 4699 Nautilus Court South Suite 104

(Photo: Asher Brewing Company)

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Located in a nature preserve in the foothills of the Flatirons, overlooking the city of Boulder, the world’s premier centre for atmospheric research also offers non-meteorologists the chance to immerse themselves in the science that lays behind weather and climate. There are interactive displays and exhibits showcasing climate phenomena, as well as an original Cray 1 computer, once the fastest computer in the world but now even slower and less powerful than your humble smartphone. The part of the facility that can be visited is free to enter.

LOCATION 1850 Table Mesa Drive

Wonder Wonder

One of Boulder’s most unique family-friendly attractions, Wonder Wonder is an immersive art experience that invites visitors to come and explore an ever-changing home of imagination. Some 18 rooms of art installations, light displays, warped mirrors, and technological contraptions are designed to inspire, fascinate, and get those imaginative juices flowing. Be sure to bring a camera to capture some memorable snaps of your little ones on their journey of discovery. General admission is $16 and $12 for children 5 and up. Kids aged 4 and under go free.

LOCATION 1685 29th Street Suite 1268 HOURS Fri-Sun 2pm-7pm Closed Mon-Thurs

(Photo: Wonder Wonder)

Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory

Discover how tea is made, packaged and distributed on an entertaining and informative guided tour of this fully operational tea factory. The 45-minute multi-sensory tour includes an introductory video, visits to an onsite herb garden and aromatic mint room, and the chance to observe how more than 100 varieties of tea (and 8 million tea bags) are produced daily. Tours are free of charge.

LOCATION 4600 Sleepytime Drive

Boulder Creek Path

Stretching for around 5.5 miles from the mouth of Boulder Canyon through the central part of town, and out toward the plains, Boulder Creek Path is a popular urban trail for walkers and bike riders of all ages and energy levels. Along the way, you’ll pass several cultural and historic landmarks as well as picture-postcard views of the creek, the city, and the mountains. There are ample great spots to stop for a picnic and a rest, too.

(Photo: sk via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Paul Joseph